Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack announced that $30 million has been set aside to help citrus producers fight Huanglongbing (HLB)––otherwise known as “citrus greening”––a disease that threatens U.S. citrus production. The money will go toward research (funded by the Specialty Crop Research Initiative Citrus Disease Research and Education program) and projects that might lead to long-term solutions (funded by the HLB Multiagency Coordination Group).
"Our HLB Multi-Agency Coordination Group has worked closely with the citrus industry to select and fund projects that we think will make a real difference for growers against HLB," says Vilsack. "Funding these projects through cooperative agreements puts us one step closer to putting real tools to fight this disease into the hands of citrus growers."
The breakdown of work to be funded includes:
- Six projects will provide citrus growers with the best management practices in Florida-based citrus groves.
- One project will focus on lowering the pH of the irrigation water and soil to strengthen the root systems of citrus trees to help them better tolerate HLB infection.
- Three projects will support different combinations of integrated management approaches for sustaining production in trees in different stages of infection.
- Two projects will test strategies for preventing tree death due to HLB infection. One of those will field test rootstocks that have shown ability to tolerate HLB infection. The other will use technologies to rapidly propagate the tolerant material for field use by the industry.
- One project will train dogs to detect HLB in trees.
- One project will develop a root sampling and testing strategy.
- One project will compare several promising early detection tests.